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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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Anisotropic Meaning

Anisotropy can be defined as the property of a material that allows it to change its properties or assume different properties in different directions. It can be explained as the quality of materials that allow the materials to exhibit properties differently in different directions as measured along an axis. The property of anisotropy can be easily observed in single crystals of solid materials such as solid elements and compounds. On the other hand, it can be rarely observed in liquids and gases due to the random distribution of particles.

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Isotropic and Anisotropic Meaning

Isotropic can be defined as that property of a material that is independent of direction. On the other hand, anisotropic is the property that is primarily dependent on direction. Both isotropic and anisotropic are used to explain the properties of crystalline materials. As mentioned above, crystalline solids exhibit the property of anisotropy and are called anisotropic crystals. Other than crystalline solids, some other solids also exhibit this property and are called Anisotropic solids. Here is a brief difference between isotropic and anisotropic.

Properties of Isotropic and Anisotropic





Isotropic property is direction independent.

Anisotropic property is dependent on direction.

Refractive index

Isotropic materials have only one refractive index

An anisotropic material has more than one refractive index.

Chemical bonding

The chemical bonding of isotropic materials is mostly consistent.

On the other hand, anisotropic materials have uncertain chemical bonding.

Passage of light

The light never passes through an isotropic material.

It passes through an anisotropic material.


For isotropic materials, the velocity of light is the same in all directions

But in Anisotropic material, the velocity of light is different for different directions.


Examples of isotropic materials can be glass, cubic symmetry crystals

Examples of anisotropic material include wood.

Magnetic Anisotropy

In physics, magnetic anisotropy is the phenomena that explain how an object’s magnetic property can be different depending on directions. It is often observed that magnetically anisotropic materials will be easier or harder to magnetize depending on the direction of rotation of the object.

Magnetic anisotropy in an object can be affected by various reasons. The below are the factors on which the magnetic anisotropy of an object depends:

  • Magnetocrystalline Anisotropy: It is mainly found in ferromagnetic materials. A ferromagnetic material takes more energy in a specific direction to magnetize. These directions are about the principal axis of the crystalline material. 

  • Shape Anisotropy:  Anisotropy depends on the shape of the object. If a material is not perfectly spherical, then it cannot be magnetized in all the direction equally, thereby creating more than one easy axis.

  • Magnetoelastic Anisotropy: It is the property of a magnetic material that allows it to change its magnetizing property when subjected to an external force. In simple words, it is the property that changes the magnetization of a magnetic material.

  • Exchange Anisotropy: It is a phenomenon that occurs when antiferromagnetic materials react with ferromagnetic materials. 

Fluorescence Anisotropy

Fluorescence Anisotropy or fluorescence polarization can be defined as the phenomenon, where the light emitted by a fluorophore is unequal when measured along different axes of polarization.

Diamagnetic Anisotropy

When a valence electron in acetylene and benzene circulate under the influence of an external field, it forms a local diamagnetic current. This local diamagnetic current helps in the deshielding of protons, and the whole process is termed Diamagnetic Anisotropy.

Applications of Anisotropy

Anisotropy has applications in different fields, and some of them are mentioned below:

  • In the field of computer graphics, anisotropic surfaces tend to change their appearances when rotated around their geometric normal. Anisotropic filtering is a process used in computer graphics to enhance the image quality of textures on far away surfaces. 

  • In the field of chemistry, an anisotropic chemical filter is used to filter out particles. These filters prove to be efficient in the filtration process of particles and allow a great flow of the particles. 

  • In Fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence anisotropy is used to determine the shape of a macromolecule.

  • The materials used in heat sources that help in the conduction and rejection of heat are often made of anisotropic materials. 

  • In the field of medicine, anisotropy is used in medical ultrasound imaging.

FAQs on Anisotropy

1. Explain the Meaning of Anisotropy.

Answer: The anisotropy meaning can be explained as the property of a material that allows it to assume different properties when measured along with different angles. Anisotropy can be easily observed in single crystals of solid crystalline elements. It can also be observed in liquids and gases but very rarely due to the random distribution of particles in them. There are certain materials that exhibit the property of anisotropy. These materials often have more than one refractive index and are characterized by uncertain chemical bonds. These materials show the different velocity of light in different directions. An example of anisotropic material can be wood.

2. Point the Major Differences Between Isotropic and Anisotropic Materials.

Answer: In a more straightforward sense, Isotropy can be defined as the property that is independent of direction and exhibits similar properties when measured along a different axis. On the other hand, the anisotropic property is direction-dependent. Isotropic materials have a single refractive index, but anisotropic materials have more than one. Isotropic materials never allow the light to pass through them, but anisotropic material does. The chemical bond in isotropic material is very consistent as compared to that of anisotropic materials. In terms of the velocity of light, isotropic materials show the equal velocity of light in all directions. But the case is different with anisotropic materials that show the different velocity of light when measured along with different directions.

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